Best Science Fiction Novels of the 60’s
This was the decade when human beings first went into space, with tentative suborbital flights, becoming more and more adventeurous until finally landing on the moon in 1969. Every science fiction writer and reader got to tell their families and friends “I told you so!” It was the heyday of the paperback and for the first time, science fiction books regularly hit the best-seller list. The psychedelic 1960’s love-generation political revolution hippie “drugs, sex, rock & roll” era penetrated science fiction with a movement called “The New Wave”, characterized by stylistic experiment, rejection of standards, emphasis on relevance, bold and sometimes obscene language, and altered states of consciousness. This movement reached its high point in Harlan Ellison [as editor] “Dangerous Visions”, the most important anthology of the decade by far. Yet at the same time, there was a backlash of traditional “hard Sci Fi” novels led by former Caltech student Larry Niven.
Here is my top 5 in reverse order…
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein
Tom Clancy has said of Robert A. Heinlein, “We proceed down the path marked by his ideas. He shows us where the future is.” Nowhere is this more true than in Heinlein’s gripping tale of revolution on the moon in 2076, where “Loonies” are kept poor and oppressed by an Earth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense. A small band of dissidents, including a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike, ignite the fires of revolution despite the near certainty of failure and death.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K Dick
A final, apocalyptic, world war has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending the majority of mankind off-planet. Those who remain, venerate all remaining examples of life, and owning an animal of your own is both a symbol of status and a necessity. For those who can’t afford an authentic animal, companies build incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep . . . even humans.
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke
2001: a Space Odyssey by Arthor C. Clarke is a must read for all Science Fiction lovers. It is such a classic and yet revolutionary for its time. In fact, this book was so revolutionary that it set a trend for Science Fiction books to come. It is filled with many captivating thoughts that really get you thinking. It shows you an interesting idea of the rise of man and another look into its future. The book also has several plots that link and merge together throughout the course of the book.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein
The story focuses on a human raised on Mars and his adaptation to, and understanding of, humans and their culture, which is portrayed as an amplified version of the consumerist and media-driven 20th-century United States. Protagonist Valentine Michael Smith is the son of astronauts of the first expedition to the planet Mars. Orphaned after the crew died, Smith was raised in the culture of the Martian natives, who possess full control over their minds and bodies (learned skills which Smith acquires). A second expedition some twenty years later brings Smith to Earth. Because he is heir to the fortunes of the entire exploration party, which includes several valuable inventions (most particularly his mother’s Lyle Drive, which makes interplanetary travel economical), Smith becomes a political pawn in government struggles. Moreover, despite the existence of the Martians, under terrestrial law Mars was terra nullius, wherefore according to some interpretations of law, Smith could be considered to own the planet Mars itself.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Far in the future, two powerful families are locked in a bitter feud. The Duke of Atreides has been outmanoeuvered by his arch-enemy, Baron Harkonnen, and must move from his home to take up the administration of the planet Arrakis, sometimes known as Dune, a vast desert where every drop of water is worth a fortune. But Dune is also a planet of fabulous wealth, for it is the only source of a drug prized throughout the Galactic Empire.